Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Donetsk, February 2, RIA Novosti. Kiev should not expect to
gain military superiority over the militias of the people’s republics,
Aleksandr Zakharchenko said on Monday.
“If Poroshenko thinks that his army can compete with ours,
let him see how quickly we took Uglegorsk,” said Poroshenko, appearing before
journalists together with the head of the LPR, Igor Plotnitskiy.
“They are throwing into battle untrained reservists who can’t
even tell the business end of a rifle. We have high morale, we have lived here,
we live here now, and will continue to do so, this is our land,” added
He reminded that, in view of another wave of Ukrainian mobilization,
DPR and LPR made a decision to start the recruitment of volunteers into the
militia, and called on the people of Ukraine to turn against the unnecessary
Translator’s Note: Zakharchenko is not one to make offhanded
comments, so the combination of the reminder how swiftly Uglegorsk was taken
(the storming of Nikishino in another part of the Debaltsevo salient may have been intended to show Uglegorsk was nota fluke) and the announcement of the voluntary mobilization suggest that the
days of standing pat and engaging in positional tit-for-tat may be coming to an
end. Zakharchenko may be following the same negotiating strategy as Putin,
which is “we can negotiate now, or we can negotiate later, under conditions
less favorable to you.” One should keep in mind that the first thing
Zakharchenko did after the liberation of the Donetsk Airport was to…invite Poroshenko
to meet him there, with the proviso that should that invitation be declined,
another would eventually be tendered, but from a location closer to Kiev. The recent reports of the LPR combat aircraft being used for the first time similarly point to a possible transition to an offensive posture.
Now, the problem here is that Poroshenko is playing a
so-called “two-level game”, which is the equivalent of a chess player facing
two opponents, on two different chessboards, and has to make the same move on
each board. Given that chess is a strategy game, winning on one board all but
guarantees losing on the other, which implies having to make a choice which
board is the more important one. The players Poroshenko faces are Novorossia on
one hand and the Right Sector/Kolomoysky/TerrBats on the other. However, there
is no sign that Poroshenko had picked which game he is willing to sacrifice.
But by shifting from one board to another, by trying to win both against
Novorossia and against the Right Sector, he is actually increasing the
possibility that he will lose both games. The unwillingness to fully close the Debaltsevo salient and transform it into a pocket may have been motivated by the desire to give Poroshenko the opportunity to put down the Right Sector decisively by using the UAF units in the salient. However, if Poroshenko is unwilling to use that opportunity and is continuing to treat Novorossia as an enemy comparable to the Right Sector, Novorossia may well return the favor.